a good poem should smell of tea

“Tea on the Porch” by Willard Metcalf

I have three poems,
he said.
Who counts poems?
Emily tossed hers
in a trunk, I
doubt if she counted them,
she simply opened another tea bag
and wrote a new one.
That was right. A good poem
should smell of tea.
Or of raw earth and freshly cut wood.

~ Olav H. Hauge
(The Dream We Carry: Selected & Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge)

It’s 96°F (34°C) out there with a feels like temperature of 102°F (39°C). The weather folks tell us 85°F (29°C) is the average high for this week of September in this part of North Carolina. Sigh… So. Stuck. Inside. (Very grateful for air conditioning!) We’re unpacked and pretty settled now and more than ready to explore the world outside these walls. If only this oppressive heat and humidity would go away.

To help pass the time I’ve started binge watching an off-beat streaming series, Dickinson.

The show takes an unusual approach to depicting its protagonist’s coming-of-age in the 1800s: Characters speak in Millennial parlance, the soundtrack is populated with today’s hits, and more often than not scenes resemble fever dreams where what’s figurative in Emily’s poems gets depicted literally.
~ Shirley Li
(The Atlantic, December 24, 2021)

At first I thought I might not like it but it drew me in. The costumes and scenery are all 1800s but the language and music is modern. (Except for the words of the poems themselves.) It kind of reminds me of the times we saw Shakespeare-in-the-Park plays performed, twisted in the opposite way, with modern costumes and settings but with the original language intact.

It’s pretty exciting seeing her poems come to life visually.

I’ve also been reading a book of Olav H. Hauge’s poems. (I’ve posted a few of his poems here over the years.) When he mentioned Emily Dickinson in his poem at the top of this post it warmed my heart to know that a Norwegian poet appreciated her poetry, too.

I’m looking forward to the day when it will be cool enough for us to have tea on the porch in our new home!

31 thoughts on “a good poem should smell of tea”

  1. Oh wow – that is some sultry weather you are having Barbara. We have had two bouts of rain and one storm this morning, then after this evening’s storm, we will likely land at a respectable temperature again. They’re predicting a warm Fall which is fine, but please no more severe weather. Tonight will be severe weather, but one on a scale of one to five. Still … enough to be mindful of. You’ll make the best of the cooler weather exploring those nature nooks you and Tim enjoy.

    1. Hope you made it through the severe weather that was coming — it’s been one violent storm after another for you. Still waiting for a break in the heat and humidity down here. There’s a cold front stalled just to our west, every night it’s still sitting there on the weather map. The weather folks are promising a change on Wednesday, still four days away…

      1. We did escape with no severe weather, but out on the water were big waterspouts and some flooding … it’s always something. We have unusually cold weather here for the next 10 days – it is only 72 in the house now (no windows open) and was very gray today – just gray, not wildfire smoke, but an ugly day that felt like Fall or early October. They were supposed to have bad weather in Connecticut and along the East Coast. Hang in there Barbara – hope it cools off and clears up for you to get out and enjoy a long walk.

        1. I remember seeing waterspouts when I was a child. We were driving across bridges between the Florida Keys and saw a couple on our way home. Many years later, when my father, sister and I were driving to visit my grandfather on Cape Cod, we saw one near the Cape Cod Canal, just before we were going to go over the bridge. It was so rare there that there was a picture of it the next day in the newspaper. They are having bad weather in Connecticut now. My sister is complaining about the unusual heat wave in September and a hailstorm damaging the garden.

          1. Weather woes everywhere and I’ll always think of you and your sister when I hear about Connecticut. I’ve never seen a waterspouts but we have had many this year and always warned about them. We were very cold today – in the 50s early this morning, but it was humid and very gray. I left later than usual, hoping it would clear up as to the gray, but it stayed that way all day.

          2. Sometimes it seems like weather stories take up more than half of the evening news. The number of lives lost is staggering, more than 2,900 dead in the earthquake in Morocco, at least 11,300 dead in the flooding in Libya. It gives a little perspective to our current weather problems closer to home. Still, those gray days can drag our spirits down.

          3. I am amazed at the Morocco and Libya death tolls too. Now they are saying there were cracks in a dam that might have prohibited such flooding and the cracks were ignored. Imagine being the person who said the cracks are not significant enough to worry about. Very dire weather predictions now and for the future. The new norm is scary to me and goes right along with the other changes I see daily in other areas.

          4. “August 2023 was Earth’s hottest August in NOAA’s 174-year climate record.” ~ The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
            It is very scary, Linda, and I feel a strong sense of doom, like we’ve passed the point of no return.

          5. I feel the same way Barbara – not just the weather, but everything. We kept breaking records for heat, temperature ranges in a 24-hour period, plus rainfall in a one-day period here in Michigan. Where does it end?

        1. Yesterday we had thunderstorms for most of the day. I don’t know if that was unusual for here but it sure was for us!

  2. I look foreward to that post,ingabrita. I am currently healing cancer and feelig wonderful and grateful that I live in Norway where it is possible to have illness and not be ruined. Much love to you my wonderful blogfriend ❤

    1. Sending you love and healing energy, dearest Leelah. ❤ You are very fortunate to live in a country where medical care is a human right and not a privilege for the wealthy. Here most of us cannot afford a major illness or accident, in spite of having insurance.

  3. We had a nice cold front come through yesterday, and what a relief! Cooler temperatures and not near so humid. I understand it’s making its way eastward, so perhaps relief is in the forecast for you? Yes, poems should smell of tea, raw earth, and fresh-cut wood!

    1. I wonder if that cold front you got is the same one that has stalled just to the west of us. Every night it sits there on the weather map, promising to bring some relief but not moving closer now for several days. Well, at least I can read poetry in air conditioned comfort while I wait!

  4. I like this painting so realistic with free paint strokes and it perfectly matches the poem, Barbara! Yes, I love a variety of hot tea. Constant Comment is my favorite and Green Tea my second favorite. If I could only break my coffee cream sugar habit by the to switch to hot tea it would eliminate the cream and sugar weight gain yo yo!

    I wonder what the man is holding and what she is thinking. His face seems pleased. Perhaps it is a cloth that the lady handmade.

    “Who counts proms?” That is funny.

    Glad there is an end to unpacking! I’m still scavenger hunting in my moving boxes. It might seem to be an odd way to unpack but I’m at the point where I don’t really know where I want to put the rest of my treasures.

    Our low at night drops to 78 with high all this week at 99. Hottest day was 107. No rain expected until maybe next weekend because of the same cold front stalled. Good for us because it is keeping hurricanes out in the Atlantic Ocean not allowing hurricanes into the Gulf of Mexico. We are at peek Hurricane season.

    I enjoy my morning on the front porch. Soon you will be sitting on your porch with cups of tea and critters! Do you have a couple of rocking chairs? Do you have a favorite flavor of tea?

    1. I loved the painting, too, TD. It has such a peaceful, comfortable, domestic vibe. It reminds me of my grandparents, who, even though they always dressed formally for the day — I rarely saw my grandfather without a tie — they were always casual, warm and inviting in their manner.

      “Who counts poems?” made me chuckle, too, as I doubt that Emily ever counted or numbered her poems, but she didn’t give them titles either, so, here we are, over a century later with all her poems numbered.

      It takes a while finding places for your treasures! I’m still fine-tuning some of my decorating… Good luck on your lengthy scavenger hunt. I mentioned rocking chairs for the porch to Tim and he liked the idea! Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂 I used to love Irish Breakfast tea with honey until it started doing a number on my gut. I miss it terribly! Lately I take whatever decaffeinated kind I can get, without honey, Peppermint sits pretty well.

  5. My grandmother dressed up too. Not formal attire, but never casual either. I don’t remember my grandfather because they were divorced by the time I was born. My grandmother was so loving and her sister who lived with her was always smiling and laughing with so much joy. And my great grandmother lived with them too. She was always dressed up. I remember my great grandmother with a grin and her bright pink lipstick usually requesting a martini. My great grandmother lived to 99 years old.

    Interesting that the poems are numbered and why. You are so knowledgeable, Barbara.

    Glad both of you like the rocking chairs idea! It’s very Southern for the front porch.

    This evening, I’m drinking Celestial Chamomile caffeine free hot tea with my grandmother’s china tea set which is quite appropriate with this response. When she passed away at 77 yo she passed her china down to me. I was only able to keep her tea set of the china with my downsizing which is definitely enough. I’m going to put Irish Breakfast tea for another caffeine free tea on my grocery list. I don’t add sugar, honey or cream to my hot tea morning nor evening. Temperature is slowly dropping. I’m looking forward to Fall.

    1. 99 is a great old age to reach, especially back in those days! My great-grandmother lived with my grandmother, too. She died of dementia at 86. She was always dressed up, even though she spent her last days endlessly searching for her sea captain husband, who had died a year earlier. My grandmother would tell her that Pop was out to sea and that would quiet her for a while. My grandmother also died of dementia at 90. I have a feeling that might be in my future, too. I have my grandmother’s mahogany secretary desk and managed to bring it with me down here to North Carolina. I can still see her sitting at it, writing letters and thank you notes.

      Tim made me a cup of decaffeinated English Breakfast tea the other afternoon, after my RSV shot. (The pharmacist hit a nerve when giving me the shot and I was feeling sorry for myself.) It was so soothing. I think I might take up having tea in the afternoon, hopefully soon on a rocking chair outside on our deck. 🙂

      1. I certainly hope that we don’t have to go through the dementia stages as it is also on both sides of my family too, including my mother although cause of death was a stroke. My mother believed that she would drown, but didn’t.

        I looked for the Irish tea and none, absolutely none. The store had lots of variety of English tea but I understand that to be different. So I purchased two caffeine free instead to try. Organic Respiratory, smoothing licorice and mullein combined with cinnamon that will nourish the lungs (I thought Tim might want to try it). Cherry Strawberry Herbal tea which would also be good iced. I thought of you, Barbara for this one. Both caffeine free.

        1. If I remember correctly, we used to get the Irish Breakfast tea at a specialty kitchen shop. Sometimes when I can’t find something special like that I resort to ordering it from Amazon. They have it. They seem to have everything I can’t find elsewhere. I can’t have the cherry but the strawberry part of that tea might work. It’s tough finding caffeine free and low FODMAP.

    1. Thank you, Ally. We’re still trying to decide if we want to go with less comfortable lawn chairs we can put away and also take to outdoor events, or wooden rocking chairs that we’ll have to leave out and keep cleaning…

      1. I understand your dilemma. FWIW, we have some LL Bean all-weather porch rockers that we leave outside year round. No maintenance, other than hosing them off occasionally.

        1. Thanks for the recommendation, Ally. I had quite forgotten that LL Bean sells furniture. The porch rockers look like just the thing for whiling away autumn hours.

          1. I also recommend these. I bought the same color as Alley at same time. I purchased the short table, glider, bench. I regret not buying two rockers! Perhaps in the future. Theses are no maintenance and comfortable. Unfortunately expensive of course.

          2. The all-weather round side table looks like a good idea for between our rockers. We’ve never had enough outdoor space for furniture like this before. On our old balcony we had a little bistro table with two matching fold-away chairs.

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